Working in London: My Last Update

Working in London

Hello folks! It is with a little remorse today I share with you a potential move for the Swan’s to work in London is officially in the past. No more, the opportunity is gone. It is unfortunate; no doubt about it, Lucy and I were excited for the life changing experience. But there is a silver lining, and we continue to move forward.


As a quick backstory, it has been around nine months ago that our eyes first set on the new city. As someone who works in corporate finance, skills are pretty transferable to location and London is certainly one of the main finance hubs in the world.

On top of that, the company that I work for doesn’t have all that much of a presence in London, but they are intent on growing it. I began networking and soon thereafter it seemed like a very real possibility for the Swans to make the move. It was communicated to me that in no uncertain terms, there will be a spot for me in a few months’ time.

That’s when the waiting game began. Unfortunately after a few months’ time, the game changed. In January 2017, a reorganization of the London group was announced. It is for the best that I hadn’t made the move already as I wouldn’t want to be caught up in all that uncertainty in a foreign country. But the game has officially changed…people are losing their jobs, people are being shuffled around, reporting structures are changing, and the strategy for expansion in London / Europe is evolving…

Another Opportunity

Then, as if it were fate, another opportunity in a similar group opened in London. They were looking to place someone in London and get them up and running by July. I didn’t get my hopes up. While they were looking for someone with a similar level of experience as myself, I knew this opportunity would be a bit more of a stretch.

I was still hopeful though. I interviewed in the beginning of May and it was a good opportunity for both parties to feel the other out. In the end, both parties felt it would be a good fit, but not great. Don’t get me wrong, I would have accepted the job if offered. It would have been a real challenge and a unique experience, plus London would be really hard to say no to.

So with that, it is time to put London in the rear view mirror for now and move on.

It’s Not Goodbye

That brings us to the silver lining. London would have put our FIRE plans on hold. They would have been on hold while we lived the dream, a “retirement lite” experience. The experience of living in London and traveling Europe is something we definitely have on our bucket list.

While relocating and working / experiencing Europe at the same time would have been great and fulfilling, it doesn’t mean we can’t have these experiences when we are finally ready to retire.

Also, it isn’t like relocating to London would be as simple as any of our prior moves (the Midwest to San Fran or from San Fran to Charlotte). London would have been much more difficult. It would have required selling the house, the cars, moving the majority of our belongings to storage, and going through the visa process (for me, my wife, our 3 year old, and our newborn…). And then once in London it would have required building back up our new life and routine including (preferably) finding new work for Lucy, daycare for the newborn, and school for the 3 year old.

Quite a process, huh?! A process that we were up for undertaking, but a hassle nonetheless.

So we forge on. But London, we’ll be back and ready to experience you and the rest of Europe to the fullest…eventually.

What’s Next?

We remain in pursuit of our fully funded lifestyle change (FFLC) as Mr. and Mrs. SSC like to call it. Our invested assets are over $1.2 million. Each year we work we are adding over 4 years’ worth of expenses into those retirement accounts. We expect to reach full-fledged Financial Independence in about three years based on a 3.5% safe withdrawal rate. As we near the point of Financial Independence, we’d like to downshift a bit. Move it into auto-pilot. And particularly for me, find a less demanding gig and one that I can take more enjoyment from.

Ideally we’d be looking for something that still easily covered our annual expenses, but have more time for our growing family.

It doesn’t hurt for us to begin looking ahead to figure out what that may be as sometime in the next few years we’ll be looking to make some major changes. I’ve asked each of my FIRE-Side Chat guests where they envision spending their retirement days (e.g. beach or mountain, etc). For us, we’ve started to conclude beach is the answer, or perhaps a lake.

Is that the long term answer? Maybe, but maybe not. But that is where we’d like to begin our retirement journey. With that in mind, we can start to think about what type of gigs we’d like which would allow us to work and ingrain ourselves in the community and begin the process of coasting into retirement (pun intended).

Coasting by the Coast

For me, as a banker, I see two main options. One is transitioning into an audit/consulting role for my current employer. It would require more travel (about a third of my time), but it may allow for me to work remotely (at the beach) for the other two thirds. It would also not require any night and weekend work and as such no more missed vacations or unexpected time away from family. The trade-off there would be a 15-20% reduction of my salary, although still easily six-figures.

The other option would be finding a role at a local community or regional bank, perhaps as a small business lender or risk approval officer. The presumed trade-off again would be a lot less demanding work along with a lot less pay, but at this stage in my career it may be worth it.

And for Lucy, you ask? Well thankfully her job and employer has even greater flexibility than mine. Working in hospitality, there would be plenty of hotels to find another gig at near beach and resort locations that we’d be considering. And the other option she has is working for the regional sales office remotely. She has direct experience with this position already and would be a natural fit. This is even a potential consideration for her today.

Coasting into retirement near the coast sounds nice, huh? For now, the plan will be spending the next couple years scouting out locations and formulating plans and ideas. Do we stay in state and head to the North Carolina beaches, perhaps Hilton Head Island or Charleston, or how about Orange Beach, AL which came up on a quick google search for best beach locations?

There is a lot to look forward to and a lot left to figure out as we continue on our winding road toward FIRE. Thank you for continuing to follow along!

The Green Swan






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  1. Hey JW, sorry London didn’t work out, but I’ve always felt “it wasn’t meant to be” when things happened that way in our life/career. Keep looking forward, and thinking about that beach!! I used to travel to Wilmington/Wrightsville beach on business, surprising how few people are aware of that area. Nose to the grindstone for a few more years, and the world will become your oyster!

    1. I have always had the outlook of it was meant to be as well and I’ve been fortunate the way things have worked out so far.

      I agree, those beaches are under rated!

      Thanks for the kind words, Fritz.

  2. Sorry to hear the relocation didn’t work out – the silver lining of keeping the FIRE date sounds great to me though 🙂

    Kicking it on the beach while slowing work down would be a nice ride into early retirement, looking forward to reading as your families plans unfold.

  3. My next-door neighbors moved to London 3 years ago; he works in cybersecurity, she is a blogger/photographer, and they have 3 young children. From what I know the transition was stressful. Getting into schools was sort of a nightmare. But eventually things settled down, and they seemed to thrive in the bustle and diversity of the city. Now, they are moving back to the NYC metro area.

    I studied abroad in London for a semester in college and have been back as recently as last year. I would love to live there or elsewhere in Europe, but it’s surprisingly difficult for physicians to work in Europe. Maybe it will have to wait for my early retirement 🙂

    I don’t subscribe to the cliche that “things happen for a reason,” but I do believe we have less control over our lives and decisions than we think; it makes for a better life to go with the flow and see where it takes you.

    1. Great perspective, Dr C, thanks for sharing! There are a lot of things out of our hands so good to stay flexible. We’re definitely going with the flow!

      We may be in the same boat, finding our way to London in early retirement! Not a bad way to do it. Maybe we’ll see you there :)!

      Thanks for the comment!

  4. Sorry to hear that London is not an option right now.
    The positive attitude in your post is great. I look forward to see where you will end up. Coasting sounds like fun as well…

  5. Hi JW,

    As others say, sorry to hear that it didn’t work out, but better to have avoided some of that fun. Who knows what the future holds, but do let me know if you make it over to the UK (well London) and maybe we can grab a beer.

    Would you be able to slow down for the last few years? I am not sure I could to be honest, I think the psychological side will be the biggest decision for you if I am honest 🙂

    1. Would love to grab a beer, I’ll be sure to let you know!

      I hear ya on the psychological side and it’s good to hear your opinion on that. I go back and forth on whether I could decelerate. There is an unnatural feeling to it, but in the right situation I think I could. We’ll see if it ever happens.

      Thanks for the comment!

      1. Hi JW,
        I think with the little ones then I can see that adding to the plus side, but of course then it is a trade off of missing a couple of years and never working or having to do 5 slower or whatever the number is. It’s a tough one, and one of the reasons I am trying to get my passive income to start replacing my normal income so that I could take an easier life, but I would to just get it done 🙂

        I’ll look forward to that beer 🙂

        1. Exactly, that trade off is killer. But as long as the pay cut isn’t too bad and it is an equally or more enjoyable job, than I can understand the draw.

          My current job has many challenges so I could see coasting being a more sustainable lifestyle with not much delay to drag to the FIRE date. We’ll see. I can’t stop going back and forth in my mind.

          Thanks again for your perspective!

  6. No worries – I think it will always be going back and forth until you find what is right – not an easy one full stop! I can see the attraction of being able to do a relatively easy stable job without too much stress, but my fear is I would get bored! If it is only going to delay a year or two then I can see the attraction!
    I wait with interest to see what you end up doing! 🙂

  7. Bummer it didn’t work out, but in the grand scheme of things, perhaps it’s for the best. I considered living and working in New Zealand or Australia for quite a while, but eventually realized it would be much more enjoyable to go live there for a spell and not work.


    1. That may be true and a very good alternative nonetheless. That may be our end game and allow us to have time to slow travel around Europe and elsewhere with greater flexibility.

      It’s great the luxury that Financial Independence provides!

      Thanks for the comment Doc!

  8. After visiting Europe last year, there is nothing more like a fresh perspective of seeing new countries with different cultures. It was exonerating and absolutely worth every penny. Like you, it put my FIRE goal on hold, and for the first time in my life I didn’t look at my budget when traveling. The food, the activities, the site seeing – it was one of the best experiences and one that won’t be forgotten.

    Definitely commend you for having the courage to make a move like that and exploring the other side of the world !

    1. That’s the way to travel! Those extra expenses may hurt, but in hindsight they are minimal in the grand scheme of things and the experience is why life is worth living.

  9. We just got back from London (and other parts of the UK and Ireland). We spent about 5 days in London and I easily could have spent a few more weeks. So much to see and do. The only downside was the excessive heat last week and no air conditioning in the flat that we stayed in.

    However, it sure is expensive in London. Relocating would definitely put a damper on our FIRE plans.

    1. What a great trip, besides the heat!

      I totally agree, FIRE would have taken a back seat for a couple years which would have been a struggle for me. Also, just those super high expenses would have been a battle for my frugal self!

  10. Does this mean Dublin is also off the table? Sorry to hear it didn’t work out but this may leave the door open for an even better opportunity 🙂

    1. Good question Kate, and thanks for giving me a chance to clarify. Yes, this would mean that Dublin too is off the table as the reorganization affected both the Dublin and London offices. One door closes and another will open… Thanks for the comment!

  11. That would have been a great experience, but they say things happen for a reason. It might be better that you can focus more on reaching FIRE. My wife and I are going to London in August for our 10th anniversary. Everything seems expensive there.

    1. That’s exactly how I’m looking at it! Thanks Dave.

      Wow that’s going to be a great trip! My wife and I have our 10th next year and are thinking about a Euro trip too. London is certainly expensive but I think August is also peak travel season across Europe. I look forward to hearing about your trip!

  12. London’s loss is Charlotte’s gain — and ours! I’m sorry it didn’t go as planned but I’m happy we’ll be able to see more of you.

    I like the sound of coasting into retirement by the coast. I can see y’all hanging by the water then heading home for a barbecue. And a beer. And a hammock.

    1. Thanks Mrs Groovy! It’s definitely a treat being close to you folks… So long as you guys don’t go moving on us :)!

      You paint a pretty nice picture by the coast! I’ll definitely be getting myself a hammock!

  13. Sometimes as much as we hoped an opportunity worked out, having the ‘what if’ off the table gives us a sense of peace to refocus on what we’ve got now.
    Ever since our company stock dipped last fall I’ve got multiple recruiters per week reaching out on linkedin. I am so happy with my management, I’m not looking. I did take a call earlier this year, that would’ve put me closer to family (currently ~200 mi, offer ~60-100 mi), and even the few days of pondering if I should pursue further was mentally unsettling. I hadn’t owned my condo for a year, I had yoga teaching workshops schedule out for several months, etc. I decided I really like where I live, and my job, and if I’m meant to move, maybe it’ll happen in the future. For now… I’m going to keep politely declining, and see what the future holds.

    1. I love your comments Jacq!

      I agree, it was a great experience to go through and test the waters but there is an appreciation for staying put too and refocusing on our FIRE ambitions. It never hurts to entertain those ideas and wait for something perfect.

  14. (Part 2 of my comment)
    I’m trying to gain experience so like you mentioned I have the option to FI into a consulting gig and set my own schedule. Mainly I’m looking at working remotely or not at all while I take a trip. I’d love to get rid of the daily commute and be a little greener with my carbon foot print too. It’s not -just- the lure of working in comfy pants. I’m also cold at work all summer. The idea of working from home and having control of the temperature (ie it is holy mackerel perfect time out right now, but I need to work with papers that would blow 3 buildings down if I tried to go outside for my job right now.), and also be a little greener there adds to my ideal.
    Enjoy the now & your planned coasting! 🙂

    1. That’s awesome Jacq. Having a flexible position like that would be a dream. Maintaining a competitive wage while working when you want… Perfect!

      And you’re right, there are so many things I wish I could change to improve my carbon footprint as well as others. Big buildings downtown… Not so great. Yesterday morning I walked into the office to find the sink dripping all night… Come on people!

  15. I’m sorry to hear it didn’t work out. I know how exciting it is to think about moving to another country. I did it myself twice, then without a family. With kids it can be much more stressful. I’m sure it meant to be this way for you guys, but you always have the chance to visit London. Who knows, after FIRE you might even live there for a while.

    1. Yes that’s true, kids add a big wrinkle!

      It’ll definitely remain in the visit list and I wouldn’t rule out a slow travel/extended stay trip in FIRE. That would be a great way to visit and experience the culture! Especially with kiddos.

      Thanks Roadrunner!

  16. Sorry to hear JW that it isn’t going to work out. That definitely would have been an adventure of a lifetime. It sounds like now you might be able to travel around in the world in 3.5 years when you hit FIRE. Which may be even better!!!

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